What Are Your Options for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatments?
Are You Feeling Numbness, Tingling or Burning in the First Three Fingers of Your Hand?
What are possible carpal tunnel syndrome treatments? If you’re feeling numbness, tingling or a burning sensation in the first three fingers of your hand, it may be due to carpal tunnel syndrome. You should get it evaluated and treated by an orthopedic surgeon early on when conservative treatments like a night splint and perhaps an anti-inflammatory medication are all that’s needed to resolve the situation. To get started and make an appointment with Dr. Bennett, please call our Sugar Land office at 281-633-8600 or our Houston office at 713-234-3152.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common injury affecting many people. We see very mild cases and some where the injury has become debilitating. Most patients with carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated with non-surgical measures such as wrist splints. However, some patients with more severe symptoms are treated with the minimally-invasive endoscopic carpal tunnel release. In this video, Dr. J. Michael Bennett explains what causes carpal tunnel syndrome, the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and options for carpal tunnel syndrome treatments.
Dr. Bennett is a Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon and a Fellowship Trained Sports Medicine Physician with a Certificate of Added Qualification (CAQ) in Sports Medicine. He specializes in treating injuries and pathologies of the shoulders, elbows, and knees.
Here’s Dr. Bennett talking about carpal tunnel syndrome.
This is a summary of Dr. Bennett’s carpal tunnel syndrome treatments video.
Today, we’re talking about carpal tunnel syndrome, which is very common problem, we see a lot of it. There are a number of different reasons you can get carpal tunnel syndrome. Women who are pregnant can sometimes get carpal tunnel syndrome. People who use their hands a lot, perhaps in their work, can get carpal tunnel syndrome. Sometimes will see carpal tunnel syndrome secondary to a trauma or a fall, and sometimes we see carpal tunnel syndrome secondary to other medical issues like diabetes or thyroid problems.
So today we’ll go through the anatomy and the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. If you look at your hand, all of your fingers are basically controlled by tendons that allow you to flex your fingers. These tendons run through your wrist, sharing a space with a nerve called the median nerve. The nerve passes underneath a ligament in the wrist. Sometimes you can have swelling at this point, which causes pressure on the nerve.
This pressure on the nerve causes one of the primary symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, which is numbness, tingling and burning in the first three fingers of your hand. You may even notice some muscle atrophy in the palm of your hand. If you see a difference in your hands, or a flattening of the muscle underneath your thumb, that can be another sign of carpal tunnel syndrome.
It may be a chronic situation, if you begin to see muscle issues, particularly muscle weakening. So if you feel this numbness, burning, or tingling, or perhaps if you find yourself dropping objects during the day, then this may be caused by carpal tunnel syndrome. So if you have any of these symptoms, you want to be evaluated by an orthopedic surgeon, or perhaps a neurologist, so you can have the appropriate diagnostic tests.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Can Be Caused by Arm & Wrist Position
In many patients, carpal tunnel syndrome can be related to the position in which you hold your hands during the day or at night. Some patients sleep with their wrists bent at night, in sort of a praying mantis position. Your elbows are flexed and your wrists are flexed and your sleeping on that and it can irritate the nerve. You may wake up in the middle of the night and shake your hand because you feel numbness and tingling, and it’s keeping you from sleeping. If it just occurs at night, it may be positional carpal tunnel syndrome.
The first thing you want to do is try to change your position to see if it makes a difference. If you don’t want to see a doctor at that point, you can try going to the store and picking up a wrist splint, called the night splint. What that does is hold your wrist in a straight, stable position, see you can’t flex it and pinch the nerve. So the splint helps you keep your carpal tunnel open, and you’re not adding pressure to the nerve.
An EMG is Often Used to Diagnose Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If you do see an orthopedic surgeon or a neurologist, the first thing your doctor will probably do is get an EMG, or electromyogram. This will enable your doctor to see exactly where the nerve is compressed whether it’s in the wrist, or the elbow, or even in the neck. The grade of compression determined by the EMG will give an indication of how you’ll respond to treatment.
The majority of patients with mild carpal tunnel syndrome will respond to a night splint and perhaps an anti-inflammatory. However there are other patients with more severe symptoms, perhaps with atrophy or wasting of the hand, and the EMG confirms carpal tunnel syndrome. These patients might have tried the night splint and it’s not working for them, and they have symptoms during the day. For these patients with more severe symptoms, the appropriate treatment might be a carpal tunnel release.
What’s an Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release
In the old days, when we did a carpal tunnel release, we would make an incision in the middle of the palm to release the ligament. Now we usually do an endoscopic carpal tunnel release, and we do an endoscopic carpal tunnel release here at our clinic, where we don’t have to make that big incision in the hand. We can make two small incisions and with a tiny camera we can use a very small knife release the ligament from the inside. That opens up that ligament and decompresses the carpal tunnel, the blood flow gets back to the nerve and the numbness and tingling go away. The nerve can heal a millimeter a day depending on how long it’s been compressed.
Your Options for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatments Are More Likely to Involve Surgery if You Ignore Symptoms
Sometimes carpal tunnel syndrome can be so severe that doing a release will not get rid of the symptoms. That’s why it’s so important to get evaluated by an orthopedic surgeon early, and not let the symptoms become severe. If you’re starting to notice muscle atrophy or weakness in the hand, we highly recommend that you have your hand evaluated by an orthopedic surgeon or a neurologist. It’s better to have this treated earlier than later, and you don’t want to miss the opportunity to have this fixed.
If you’re experiencing numbness, tingling or burning in the first three fingers of a hand, please consider scheduling an evaluation with Dr. Bennett. You can do that by calling 281-633-8600 in Sugar Land or 713-234-3152 in Houston. You can also use the Book an Appointment button at the top of the page to make an appointment online.
Dr. J. Michael Bennett is a Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon and Fellowship Trained Sports Medicine Specialist. For more information about carpal tunnel system treatment options and treatments for other hand and wrist injuries, please check our patient education video library.
Please View Our Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release Animation